Tobe posts on CNET

Tobe

Next-level platformers on iOS

If you haven't guessed already, I'm a big fan of platform games. Maybe it's my background of playing games from both the Mario and Sonic franchises or the sheer number of solid platformers in the iTunes App Store, but I simply can't get enough of them. There's just something charming to me about exploring a level, making all the right jumps, and trying to collect all the items to go on to next level.

There have been several popular platform games to come through the iTunes App Store, but as time goes on, I've noticed the genre evolving in interesting ways. Particularly with a few of the newer games, I'm seeing unique types of challenges being added that take the genre to places it hasn't been before.

This week's collected iOS apps are all platformers with something extra. The first uses an interesting foreground/background playing dynamic that adds to the action. The second is a continuous climber with added bonuses that keep trying to get higher and higher. The third offers tons of side challenges and secret areas for those who like to explore.… Read more

Is it time to invest in robot manufacturers? (Q&A)

They vacuum our floors and help fight our wars, but robots always seem to be just over the horizon. They're never as commonplace as we expected.

Still, that hasn't stopped prognosticators from predicting that robots will be the automobile of the 21st century, or that robots makers are now where Microsoft was in the late 1970s. The markets for industrial and service robots are already worth billions of dollars each, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) data.

Robotkind certainly got a major boost this week when electronics giant Foxconn, which makes everything from iPads to LCD TVs, announced that it's replacing some of its human workers, which number more than 900,000, with more than a million robots.

Of course, we all wish we'd bought shares in Microsoft and Google early on. That's the kind of thinking that led Frank Tobe, author of The Robot Report blog, to look into the sector and try to identify publicly traded robot makers that have growth potential.

In a recent critique of a list of 10 robot makers that appeared on the Nasdaq Web site, the Report's sub-blog, Everything Robotic, noted that some of the world's biggest robot companies, such as Japanese industrial robot makers Yaskawa and Fanuc, were not included.

Tobe also pointed out that Nasdaq missed rising stars like Intuitive Surgical, which produces the da Vinci surgery system, and Adept Technology, which makes automation systems.

Intrigued, we asked Tobe, a former political consultant, why he thinks now might be a good time to invest in our robotic future. … Read more